While Phaleonopsis is by far the most common and widely known types of orchids, another popular and spectacular variety of orchid is the genus Oncidium. It is one of the most interbred varieties of orchids have hundreds of types including the Dancing Ladies, Wildcat, and Twinkle.They come in a plethora of bloom shapes, colors and sizes. Some varieties even have a wonderful fragrance; the popular Sharry Baby emits a fragrance similar to chocolate. If you’ve never experienced the beauty of an orchid indoors, now is the time to do so. Contrary to popular belief, orchids are quite easy to care for. Bright, indirect light; weekly watering; fertilizer; and admiration is all your Oncidium orchid needs to thrive and last for months. See below for more advanced care and re-potting information.
Oncidiums are native to Central and South America and are distinguished by their pseudobulb or false bulb. The name Oncidium comes from the from the Greek word “onkos” meaning tumor or swelling referring to their warty lip. Most of the species are epiphytic in that they grow on trees. Their pseudobulbs and leaves vary in form and shape but for the most part are grasslike and have a bent look to them. Others have stiff succulent like foliage that is often called mule ear oncidiums.
Oncidium Orchid Care
Oncidiums prefer bright indirect light. Use the color of their leaves for indication of proper lighting. The leaves should be light green as opposed to dark green (too little light) or reddish green (too much light). Most Oncidiums prefer temperatures between 55 degrees and 95 degrees. Watering depends on a variety of factors including potting media, light, air movement, and humidity. In general, water one a week, keeping slightly moist. Do not let them dry out completely or keep them in soggy conditions. They prefer relatively high humidity of between 50 and 90 percent. One way to ensure this is to mist your Oncidium in the morning. Do not mist in the afternoon because it makes the foliage more susceptible to infection if it does not dry out by night time. Fertilize with a moderate 20-20-20 fertilizer, unless planted in fir bark, where a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10 is best. Increase fertilization during warmer months when the plant is in growth and reduce during cooler months. In general, fertilize every other week with a half strength fertilizer.
Generally repot your Oncidium every 2 years unless it is in spaghnum moss, then repot every 12 to 18 months. Remove the plant from its pot and trim off all dead roots. Do not divide the plant unless the plant has at least six pseudobulbs; ensure three to five pseudobulbs per new plant. Repot in a small, shallow pot that allows room for a little growth but still keeps the roots tight and snug. A pot too big will not dry out quickly and will encourage root rot. Any type of water retentive mix that allows for good drainage and air movement will work. We suggest spaghnum moss, fir bark, charcoal, or any sort of combination.
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